Riemer: Clinton Will 'Light This Place on Fire'
Montgomery County Councilmember and DNC regular Hans Riemer is in Charlotte this week.
Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer is in Charlotte this week for the Democratic National Convention. This is the Silver Spring resident's fifth DNC, and he was fired up to hear Bill Clinton speak. Patch spoke to him on the street on Wednesday, which happened to be his 40th birthday.
How are you celebrating your birthday?
My wife's here, and first we’re going to watch Bill Clinton speak, and I think Bill Clinton is going to light this place on fire. I’ve been going to conventions since 1996. There's something about his moment in time and Bill Clinton’s way to explain our economic troubles. It’s a perfect moment for him to speak to the country. When he gets up there, it's just going to crystallize a lot of the issues in this election.
What do you expect from Clinton?
I think I’m more excited to see him speak tonight than I’ve ever been. Even more than in 1996. I think his role is more important in some ways tonight than it's ever been, because Bill Clinton has a unique perspective about how we got into this economic disaster we’re in. He’ll add to the substance of this convention in a way that will have a huge affect on the race.
Were you on the floor in 1996?
I think so. It gets hazy. This is my first year as a delegate. I’ve always had to scrounge up tickets, but I definitely was inside for his speech in Chicago. That was my first convention: A bunch of my friends piled into crummy cars and had the time of our lives. In 1996, I was working at a group called Save our Security, a group working on social welfare policy. We had an event to launch (the 2030 Center) if I recall.
You've been to each DNC since then. What do you remember about them?
In 2000, I was a surrogate for the Gore campaign, speaking about why Gore was going to protect social security.
In 2004, I was working for Rock the Vote. It was special for me because I’d gotten to know Obama. I gave him a big hug the day before his speech, and later that night he came to the Rock the Vote concert. My wife was executive director with the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, and I met him through her. Around the convention we had LL Cool J, Maroon 5.
2008, I was in Denver, and I had been the National Youth Vote Director with the Obama campaign, and we’d just had our son. He was 10 months old, and we brought him to Denver. It was kind of a debacle, because he would be up at 3 a.m. every day. We had to go to bed at 9 p.m. every night, so it wasn’t the most fun convention.
What's different this year from other conventions?
Not much. There was a similar state of euphoria behind significant leaders. I’m not sure if it was quite as intense with Kerry, although everyone hated Bush enough to get behind him. This is my first time in the delegate section, and it was powerful for me to be shaking one of those signs instead of sitting in the rafters.